NBA awards race: Can 76ers’ Joel Embiid come from behind to win MVP?

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images) /

NBA 3/4-season award picks: Sixth Man of the Year

  1. Malcolm Brogdon, BOS
  2. Norman Powell, LAC
  3. Tyrese Maxey, PHI

The Sixers have another strong awards contender here in Tyrese Maxey, who Doc Rivers surprisingly moved to the bench upon his return from a foot injury. Maxey has put up the numbers, to be sure: he’s averaging 17.8 points and 3.0 assists since his “official” move to the bench on Jan 15.

While Maxey’s production is undeniable, the unevenness of his play is hard to ignore. The elite shooting remains (39.1 percent from deep over the aforementioned stretch), but porous defense and his mostly one-dimensional skill set has made it difficult for Philly to survive stretches of diminished aggression or confidence.

Maxey seems to be back on the right track, but right now he’s polling firmly behind Malcolm Brogdon and Norman Powell in the 6MOY race — and for good reason. Brogdon has excelled in a smaller role, providing the league-best Celtics with invaluable shooting and connective playmaking off the bench. Norman Powell has been the Clippers’ best non-Kawhi/PG player for long stretches this year, especially on offense. His efficiency and scoring punch is enough to rival even Maxey.

It’s too early to count Maxey out, but he has some ground to make up if he wants to convince voters to eschew the more experienced Brogdon or Powell.